Professional Consultancy Services

The Professional Consulting membership of the Anthropology Society of Western Australia provide a range of professional services, including:

General Heritage Advice

Professional heritage consultants provide advice on a range of matters:

  • Protection of heritage objects and places.
  • The Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (AHA) administered by the Department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA)
  • Strategies for consultation with Aboriginal people.
  • Development projects and government applications.

Professional heritage consultants provide targeted advice to achieve better planning outcomes.

Professional Heritage Surveys

Professional heritage consultants:

  • plan, coordinate and conduct heritage surveys in the field;
  • manage all logistical and safety matters relating to field surveys; and,
  • document survey methods, findings and outcomes in professional reports and make recommendations for future action.

Management & Coordination of Consultation

Consultion with members of the general community or particular groups within it can be difficult and, without careful management, often proves to be a source of unnecessary misunderstanding.

Professional heritage consultants are trained to manage community consultation programmes. Such consultation programmes can include:

  • consultation with Aboriginal people regarding development proposals;
  • consultation with Aboriginal people regarding Native Title; and,
  • managing community focus groups or special interest group involvement with infrastructure projects.

Professional anthropologists aim to understand the key frameworks within which to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Government Applications

An increasingly important role for professional anthropologists is to provide anthropological advice to developers in the context of government approval processes.

Anthropologists are particularly important in:

  • section 18 applications under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 which are applications to use land upon which Aboriginal sites exist where it is necessary to seek the consent of the Minister for Indigenous Affairs prior to the use of the land;
  • section 16 applications under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 where an area needs to be disturbed for research, salvage or mitigation purposes;
  • agreement making, particularly in reference to processes under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth);
  • community relations management in regard to heritage protection and land access in a range of locations throughout Western Australia.
  • completion of Aboriginal heritage section in Mining Proposals and Programme of Works lodged under the Mining Act 1978; and,
  • advice regarding Aboriginal heritage matters in applications related to Part IV and Part V of the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
  • facilitating the development of Aboriginal Heritage Management Plans as part of these application processes. Please note that DIA has now released its own template Aboriginal Heritage Management Plan and further explanatory information about AHMPs.

Over the past 5 years it is increasingly the case that there is a greater interlinkage between the assessment processes of the various government departments. As a result anthropologists are becoming more important to each of the goverment applications processes and should be considered as part of the fabric of a successful government approval outcome.

Native Title and Connection Reports

Since the Mabo decision in 1992, native title is the recognition by Australian law that some Indigenous people have rights and interests to their land that come from their traditional laws and customs. In order to prove native title, Indigenous people are required to develop an account of their present in terms of an unbroken connection to a traditional past. This body of evidence and argument is generally provided in the form of a connection report.

Connection reports are usually written by a combination of expert historians, anthropologists or linguists after consultation with the Aboriginal people claiming native title rights.

Consultant anthropologists often become expert witnesses in the legal process of establishing native title. The range of subjects on which anthropologists can offer expertise in a courtroom is broad. The expert anthropologist may be called upon to perform original field work or to synthesize secondary works. The expert may research government archives or interview everyone from elders to lawyers, pastoralists, mining companies and government bureaucrats. Professional anthropologists have special value to courtroom litigators because as a group, their expertise and methods are broad enough to enable them to perform a wide range of research while maintaining a valid scientific methodology.